America must stand up to China’s crackdown on freedom

I amIt’s unlikely that President Joe Biden brought up the name Jimmy Lai in his recent conversation with China’s communist dictator Xi Jinping. At least the records don’t show it. But Lai’s impending trial in Hong Kong represents a classic confrontation between a tireless defender of freedom and a brutal regime.

One of Biden’s predecessors, former President John Quincy Adams, is often quoted by those who want America to be less active overseas: “America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” However, on that July 4, 1821, speech – In the previous lines, in fact – Adams added that America would always stand for freedom against tyranny. “Wherever the standard of freedom and independence is or will be spread, there will be its heart, blessing and prayers,” he said.

Lai richly deserves America’s blessing and prayers, and Biden is making a mistake in not using his bully pulpit to press for his release. Lai fought for freedom vigorously for decades in Hong Kong until Xi’s brutality burned it by throwing him in prison in 2020.

The mock trial that is to follow will only demonstrate to the rest of the world the reality of Chinese communism and that Hong Kong’s status as a place in China that respects natural rights is no more. But a strong international outcry and shaming may persuade China to release Lai, 74, and let him go abroad.

Lai had been my friend for decades, ever since I was published in the then British colony by the editorial pages of Wall Street Journal In 1995. I was able to see how he used his status as Hong Kong’s last independent publisher to keep the flame of freedom alive.

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Hong Kong was a British colony for 150 years before the colonial power handed it over to China in 1997. One of the few mistakes that former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher made was agreeing to that handover in 1984. But in her defense, then-supreme supremo of Communist China, Deng Xiaoping, did Guaranteed in an international treaty that for half a century after ’97, Hong Kong would maintain its political and economic systems. It’s called “one country, two systems”.

The idea was that even though they belonged to China, the people of Hong Kong would continue to enjoy the freedoms they enjoyed under the British: freedom of trade, speech, property, association, etc. This respect for natural rights made the city one of the city. The richest places on earth.

Xi dismantled all this, just as he dismantled, in the rest of China, all the other norms that had been created over time after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976. Under his brutal desire to become the new Mao, Xi of Xi. The Chinese Communist Party has made the country America’s new main rival on the world stage.

The straw that broke Hong Kong’s back was a national security law that penalizes “sedition” and “collusion” with foreign powers and was a tool for Xi to take control of the territory. Because of this law, to the island
is facing three charges
of conspiracy with a foreign country and one count of sedition. His trial begins on December 1.

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Lai is not a threat to China’s national security, only the CCP’s lust for absolute power. Both Lai and Xi are obsessed with freedom – Jimmy to expand it and Xi to crush it. After all the other publications bowed to Beijing following the ’97 handover , Jimmy’s Apple Daily The Empire continued to support the continuation of Hong Kong’s free lifestyle. No tyrant can live alongside the free flow of information.

For years Lai opened his home on Hong Kong’s Kowloon Peninsula to other freedom lovers. We gathered there for dinners that included other journalists and a variety of other personalities, including Hong Kong politicians, men and women from the church (as well as many others from pro-democracy Hong Kong, including veteran opposition leader Martin Lee and the civilian elite. Serving under the British, Anson Chan, Lai is Catholic), and occasionally visits from abroad.

Next to him I met the economist Milton Friedman and his wife Rose. B
with the Wall Street Journal During that visit, Friedman said prophetically about the Chinese leadership, “They understand why a free press is important. And that’s one of the reasons they don’t want it. You can’t have a free press and a centralized and authoritarian government.”

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With Lai I also met heroes of the Tiananmen Square movement and other fighters for political and religious freedom within mainland China. I went to Lai’s baptism at the Catholic Church in Hong Kong Cathedral. A few years later, he went to my house.

On the night of the handover of the city to China – June 30, 1997 – I and others had dinner at Lai’s home with his lovely wife, Theresa, and then took the Hong Kong Metro to central Hong Kong. We then climbed to the balcony of the Legislative Council, where Martin Lee, now 84, the founder of the Hong Kong Democracy Movement, addressed a large crowd below. Lee, he is also a friend, he may also be prosecuted.

Lai’s basic belief is that God created man for freedom. In words I will never forget, he once said it this way: “Freedom is like oxygen. We take them both for granted until someone takes them. Then giving them back becomes the only thing we think about.”

Because of this thinking, China is now shutting down Lai’s freedom and why the United States should do everything in its power to get her back.

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Mike Gonzalez is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and the author of
BLM: Creating a New Marxist Revolution.


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